Explosion-prone rockets – NASA’s chaotic history

Over the past few weeks, controversy has surrounded the NASA rocket being prepared for launch at Florida’s Cape Canaveral. On 13 June, NASA astronaut Nick Hague will be riding the CST-100 spacecraft on a SpaceX Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station.

On Monday, after analysing the video of the explosion during rehearsals for a few weeks, NASA announced that the cause was a faulty centreline strut. This failed to separate properly from the carbon fibre structure that holds the spacecraft together, causing a seal in the centreline strut to fail, which could have released cargo onboard and caused the pyrotechnics necessary to ignition the rocket’s rocket boosters to fail.

This was an incident that could have potentially created a serious life-threatening situation.

Nasa has analysed the incident and plans to open an investigation.

This is not the first time that Nasa has reported in a kind of mistake, losing a second stage of an unmanned launch in recent months. In January, the payload from United Launch Alliance (ULA) was destroyed by a second stage failure while travelling to the space station. Later, in May, on board the rocket were lithium hydroxide. According to NASA (via Astronomy Magazine), lithium hydroxide was the name given to hydroxide-based batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles. The lithium hydroxide was created for use in lithium cathodes and separators in products like lithium ion batteries and ultrasonic currents had to be traced from where it came from to that spaceport.

ULA had a launch safely on 11 May, delivering the first of six Reusable Launch Vehicle flights for NASA (The launch had to be postponed twice due to weather delays before the maiden flight could be carried out).

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